Will Heat’s Goran Dragic be picked as All-Star Game reserve? Heat hope their place in standings help his case

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic reacts after scoring a three-point shot in fourth quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018 at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Fla. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/TNS)

HOUSTON — Does point guard Goran Dragic deserve to be voted into the All-Star Game?

The Heat believe so. But ultimately, it will be up to the coaches in the Eastern Conference.

The seven All-Star Game reserves for each conference will be announced tonight at 7 p.m. The reserves are chosen by a vote among the head coaches from each team’s respective conference.

With Heat center Hassan Whiteside already missing 18 games this season due to two different bone bruises in his left knee, Dragic is Miami’s only realistic candidate for the All-Star Game. Dragic will compete with a group of players that includes Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Tobias Harris, Washington’s John Wall and Bradley Beal, New York’s Kristaps Porzingis, Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, Boston’s Al Horford, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton and Cleveland’s Kevin Love for the Eastern Conference’s reserve spots.

Including Dragic, that’s 13 players up for seven roster slots. The 12-man All-Star list for each conference — which includes the five starters — must include four guards, six frontcourt players and two wild cards.

“I honestly don’t know,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Monday when asked if believes Dragic will be named an All-Star. “Yeah, I would love to see Goran Dragic on that team. I don’t know how he’s viewed. I don’t personally campaign with organizations and other coaches. I don’t know if people have viewed us worthy to have an All-Star. That’s a shame. But he’s been very consistent and he’s been playing at an extremely high level. He’s playing at a level at least when he was All-NBA. So to me that means you’re an All-Star. But there are some really good perimeter players in the Eastern Conference. It will be interesting to see how it goes.”

Although Dragic (17.3 points per game on 43.7 percent shooting, 4.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists) doesn’t have the eye-opening numbers, the Heat’s place in the standings is expected to help his case. Miami owns the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 27-20, one game behind the No. 3 Cleveland Cavaliers and one game ahead of the No. 5 Washington Wizards.

But the Heat know how they are viewed around the country, with very few of their games on national TV.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t had a lot of games on TV and weren’t recognized as one of the top teams in the league,” Heat forward James Johnson said. “The things [Dragic] has been able to do and the things he’s able to accomplish with the group of guys that we have in this locker room is definitely unbelievable. But to the normal fan, he doesn’t have the national notoriety. But as far as the All-Star skill level and his work ethic and the way he leads our team, he should absolutely be in.”

ESPN NBA writer Zach Lowe released his All-Star teams Tuesday morning and did not have Dragic on the list. Lowe’s Eastern Conference reserves were Oladipo, Lowry, Horford, Drummond, Porzingis, Beal and Love.

“The last three spots came down to Drummond, Porzingis, Love, John Wall, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Khris Middleton, Kemba Walker, and Anyone From The Kick-Ass Miami Heat and, honestly it was pretty depressing. Pick any four, and I wouldn’t really argue,” Lowe wrote.

“I badly wanted to take a Heat player, but it’s hard to make a case for any of them. Goran Dragic comes closest, but the numbers and overall impact aren’t quite there. Hassan Whiteside missed too many games. The Heat are winning because they have so many good, B-plus NBA players — not because of any singular talent.”

Miami’s roster has combined to make zero All-Star Game appereances. Will Dragic earn the honor for the first time in his NBA career?

In a few hours, the Heat will find out.

“They always try to say we don’t have All-Stars,” Whiteside said. “No, y’all just don’t vote them. We got All-Stars.”

[Spoelstra on 27-20 Heat: ‘There’s a lot of good things going on. Our locker room knows that’]

[‘Gifted’ and ‘unbelievable’ are two words that can be used to describe Derrick Jones Jr.’s dunking ability]

[Heat guard Dion Waiters has successful surgery on left ankle]

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